When women rule us astray
In Isaiah 3:1-15 God laments over his people of Jerusalem and Judah because of their disobedient condition and the public parading of their sin. Their behavior reminds us a lot of the condition the whole world is in today. Verse 12 may sound particularly shocking for our modern ears. God then saw women in ruling position not as the sign of blessing, but as an expression of his judgment over his people.
In our modern world, about 22 countries live under the rule of women. Countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Senegal, South Korea or Bangladesh have a female president, Prime Minister or Chancellor. What is God’s perspective when he looks on 22 countries ruled by women? God is the one who establishes governing authorities; he changes time and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He knows exactly what he is doing, he has a hand in who rules today. Is God sending his judgment over nations by instituting women to rule them?
The democratic majority disagrees with God
Most of us have heard the femininists view point on the rulership of women. Lately, even Christian women (and men!) are more and more siding along with femininistic thought patterns on this topic, typically quoting Bible verses completely out of its context and its culture to make their unbiblical points. Most of those in politics (and specifically those who wish to be politically correct!) as well as those in positions of power have one thing in common, true to Psalm 2: They take their stand against the Lord, trying to break his chains and throw off his fetters. Their battle cry is to defy God’s order of life, and make disobedience against God the new binding law. Most of us have also put in our own two cents about women as rulers, leaders, and in headship positions. But at the end of the day, all these debates, opinions, and wishes are just human’s view. What counts is how does God see it. What is God’s view on this? The Bible tells us the story of two foreign women (Jezebel and her daughter Athaliah) who pushed themselves forward to rule Israel. Their story did not end well. In the Bible, there is not a single instance that an Israelite woman ruled over Israel. Headship simply was male, just like God ordered it in the very beginning. Why chance for worse what God has ordered beautifully?
Deborah was a mother, not a ruler
Some may argue that Deborah was a ruler. But how can she be a ruler (or a king) when it says four times in the Book of Judges that “Israel had no king, everyone did as he saw fit.” Deborah was one who did not do as she saw fit. She was not a disobedient rebel. She aligned herself to do what was fitting with her God! Listen to what she says about herself in Jdg 5:6-7: “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the roads were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths. Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel.” She does not perceive herself as a ruler, not even as a leader, but as a mother! She was someone who sat under her palm tree where the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided because she could hear God as a prophetess and because she did what fit God, and not what fit man. Today, we fit to whatever the majority shouts loud; we enter whatever gate is broad and wide. Who, in today’s cacophony of opinionated and angry voices, seriously bothers to care for the view that God has? Read more on this in my book, “The King’s Woman”
Hosts are not leaders
Some naively believe that women held leadership positions in the early church, misunderstanding the term “hosting” to mean leadership. To host means to open up your house for others to meet. Paul and Peter met with the brothers at Lydia’s home, (Acts 16:40). Pricilla and Aquilla opened up their homes for the church to meet (Rom 16: 3-5). A house church gathered in Chloe’s household, (1Cor 1:11). Nympha hosted the church at her house (Col 4:15) These women might have had big houses where many could come together and hang out for a whole day or more. Paul greets the very hard working women Persis, Tyyphena and Tyrphos. (Now, hard work could mean all sorts of things: preaching and teaching, as well as getting the house ready to host many people which involves: fill up the water pitchers to wash the dusty feet before entering the house, prepare and cook large amounts of meal, hand wash piles of dishes, broom and mop the house after everyone leaves, hand wash the mats and blankets that people might have used.) When Paul writes: Greet Mary, who worked hard for you, (Rom 16:6) it does not mean Mary was a leader, having a headship position. No, it just means that Mary just willed to work hard for the people.
Men of the Kingdom created a safe place for women
Women were easily exposed to vulnerability in those ancient days; this is true even today in many parts of the world. Jesus broke this standard when he was on earth. Jesus deliberately made space for women, crossing every cultural and traditional barrier. Women were welcomed and were safe in his presence. The three Marys, Martha, Joanna, Susanna and many other women supported Jesus and his disciples. Paul greets a number of women in his letters who were all involved some way or the other in the cause of the gospel. He considers them as mothers, sisters, co-laborers in the Lord. Julia and the unnamed sister of Nereus, the unnamed mother of Rufus, Pricilla, the unnamed women of Philippi, who contented at Paul’s side together with Clement and other fellow-workers, Lois and Eunice (Timothy’s mother and grandmother) who were credited for their sincere faith. Paul commends Phoebe, who served helping many in the church. The Kingdom that Jesus came to establish was an upside-down Kingdom, overthrowing the parading, the culture and the legalization of sin and turned things back to God’s standards. What Jesus did and later on Paul – the men of the Kingdom! – did to the women of their times was remarkable. All these women mentioned could play a role because Paul made space for them. He created a safe and healthy environment for them to use their material resources, gifts, and talents. Alone, by themselves, these women could not have achieved this. Women were present alongside these men – and they flourished! Jesus and Paul created this environment in a culture, tradition, and customs that otherwise lived very differently. We should not therefore twist history and read into it what we want it to be today, specifically that women were in headship positions, and that this was somehow a sign of God’s blessing. The exact opposite is true. Or where, in the Bible, did God change his opinion on this? If we want to be fair to God and the very clear creational order that he has established about headship from the very beginning, we should stop twisting his words in his mouth.
Will the real men stand up, please?
An absolutely surrendered man, a man who stays submitted under the authority of God is able to create a safe place of total surrender to God for women too. Jesus stayed submitted to God until his death. Paul speaks of his ultimate surrender in Gal 2:20 with these words: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Under a healthy male headship, women can find their space, they can be safe, they can be part of the bigger picture, use their gifts, share their material resources and so on. Until we want to go as far as to brutalize scripture, there is no way we can twist things to mean that women were having headship (leadership) roles in the Bible and conclude that we all therefore need to shift away from what God had beautifully already ordered in the very beginning.
Today we see women leading protest marches in support of women’s rights, including the right to kill unborn babies. They stand up for LGBTQ rights, racial justice, freedom of religion, immigration and health care reform, the protection of the natural environment and workers’ rights. What does this really mean? It only shows that they have not found a safe place yet! It only shows that there are no real men who can lead and give headship for these women! So many women naively conclude, completely outside of God’s Kingdom framework : Let us take matters in our own hands, let us rule!
Could this be anything else than a judgment of God as it is stated in Is 3:12? “Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.”
What are we to do, therefore? For men and woman alike: Your hiding place, your safety is only in Jesus, your King and Bridegroom. Run to him, surrender absolutely, submit and fall into his loving embrace.